For us, it depends which branch of the family you’re visiting. The old blog had a long post* about some of our Christmas traditions, which started as a meme at Tracey’s site. (A lot of my good posts started elsewhere. Apparently, I’m not so much a composer as I am an arranger of other people’s work – the unofficial copy editor to the blogosphere. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.)
*About that post – now I have a niece (yay!) so the one question about fussing over an infant so you don’t ever make it to the kitchen to help? Yeah, now that’s in play. Ought to be interesting.
**And one other thing about that post – no comments. About four years’ worth of comments are gone – I ported them to a third-party commenting service that went pay-only, and I lost them all. Sorry if you had something clever there that you don’t remember any more.
Kate’s post (the first link) was specifically musical in subject. I realize I never answered the question, having gotten off on a Royal Guardsmen tangent*… now I’d like to answer it. The sad truth is, there’s little I won’t listen to at Christmas. I even like the relative dreck like Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” and Paul McCartney’s synthtastic “Wonderful Christmastime.” I’m a sap. So, yeah, Snoopy’s Christmas – I can dig it. “Wrapping Paper”? Dig it. (The barking Jingle Bells or “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”? HELLS NO. Even I have some standards. But “Feliz Navidad”? In limited doses – dig it.)
*After Carson Palmer got his knee rolled in playoffs against Pittsburgh a few years ago, I tried to adapt Snoopy v. The Red Baron to the situation, thanks to the fortuitous name of the culprit, Steelers lineman Kimo Von Olhoffen. But other than that one line – “Kimo Von Olhoffen was his name” – nothing could come of it. Then I remembered that I really don’t care at all about Cincinnati Bengals football. Problem solved!
Since everyone has to have some favorites, I will say that I love the Beach Boys’ Christmas Album (and “Little St. Nick” is terrific, so there), and Sinatra’s, and Burl Ives’ stuff (not just “Holly Jolly Christmas”), and a lot of the pop standards. (But not, for some reason, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Not any of the versions. Can’t tell you why, but it’s like swallowing glass to me.) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the original instrumental “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson and the Harry Simeon Chorale singing “Little Drummer Boy.” My dad had a collection of record albums, A Firestone Christmas (there were about a dozen volumes), and I can remember those two songs crackling and popping over the hi-boy speakers, along with Bing and Brenda Lee and the Ronettes and Bobby Helms and all the rest. I love the original, more melancholy version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – I think Judy Garland’s is the best of them. “Carol of the Bells” is wonderful.
I could just go on and on… I haven’t even gotten to the more worshipful songs like “We Three Kings” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” But I think I ought to add that Russ Taff put out a great Christmas album many moons ago, hard to find now, in a retro-crooner soft jazz style. If you can possibly find it, it will repay your efforts. (In reply, I promise that I will try to find this CD, which sounds like it works the same side of the street.)
For a while, one goofy custom was to watch A Christmas Story. Then TNT decided to run it on a 24-hour loop and ruin it for all the world. There’s Miracle on 34th Street, Babes in Toyland, the classic Rankin-Bass holiday specials, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. But for a few years, my cousins (Dad’s side) submitted to a Mystery Science Theater movie every year, from me. We’d watch the movie, laugh insanely, and play poker. (Peace on Earth! Good will towards men!) That didn’t take (though we had a good run). But the seven fish feast goes strong, and at midnight, when Christmas Eve clicks over to Christmas Day, everyone opens their presents. It’s a good time.
On my wife’s side, we go to Mass, and then come home, change back into our galumphy hanging-out clothes, and have a huge comfy breakfast-and-presents binge. I wholeheartedly approve of this method of celebration. And whatever you do out there for your holiday – do what you love, with the ones you love.